Pearl Izumi have shed their usual mass-market-friendly, middle-of-the-road fits and styling for their latest PRO Octane jersey and replaced them with a true racer-appropriate cut, some nice design features and bona fide made-in-Italy quality, feel and construction.
Though the fit isn't quite as form fitting as the depiction in company's racy ads, it's not far off. The jersey's luxurious and light-feeling Meryl microfibres faithfully hug body contours with true Euro-type tailoring and a thoroughly cycling-specific pattern.
The sleeves are snug yet neither bunch up front nor restrict around the shoulders while in the drops, and their asymmetric cut sleeves provide a tad extra coverage on top without overly restricting the other side.
Likewise, the dropped tail and raised front hem offer an appropriate amount of coverage with no bunched material in the front of the torso, and big strips of open mesh material down the middle of the back and down the sleeves let lots of cooling air pass right through.
In addition, the three-plus-one pockets are well configured and suitably deep, and the rear hem uses a silicone-dotted strip of red material (the same as on the legs of the matching shorts, in fact) to keep it in place.
The full front zip also sports an easy-to-grab pull plus a 'zipper garage' up top to prevent neck irritation. Kudos all around.
The clean and understated black, white and red look is spot-on, too, though the white side panels on the jersey and shorts don't match in appearance or texture. Even so, it's still one of the most attractive and serious-looking tops to come out of Pearl Izumi in quite some time.
Belly up to the bar
Though superbly tailored and feature-packed, the Pearl Izumi PRO Octane full-zip jersey is also extremely expensive. Add in the matching shorts and you've got a grand total that is usually more associated with a decent business suit – or a weekend getaway.
Okay, so the jersey isn't exactly dripping with value but it's still an outstanding garment otherwise and those willing to shell out the coin will at least be rewarded with a flawless fit, top-notch materials and a distinctive look.